Native Languages & Nations

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Native Nations A - Z
Contributed by CinnamonMoon

From: American Indian Myths and Legends By Richard Erodoes and Alfonso Ortiz

Acoma is, along with the Hopi town of Oraibi, the oldest inhabited settlement in the United States; it was already well established when the Spaniards first saw it in 1540. The ancient pueblo, known as the Sky City, is spectacularly situated like a medieveal fortress atop its 600-foot-high rock, halfway between the Gallup and Albuquerque in New Mexico. In the midst of the village stands the seventeenth-century Church of San Esteban with its wonderful polychrome altar, one of the great architectural treasures of the Southwest. Now known for it's beautiful Pottery

The Aleuts' name derives from the Chukchi word 'aliat', meaning "island" or "islanders." They call themselves Unung'un, the People. The Aleuts are a branch of the Inuit family, with whom they share common ancestors and also vocabulary. They occupy the chain of islands forming the "bridge" between Siberia and Alaska over which man first came to the Western Hemisphere tens of thousands of years ago. The Aleuts fish and hunt in kayaks.

The Alogonquians (or Algonkins), are possibly the largest group of linguistically related tribes in North America, scattered over the whole continent from the Atlantic to the Rocky Mountains. They include the Algonkin of Ottawa proper, the Cheyenne, Arapaho, Ojibway, Sac and Fox, Pottawatomi, Illinois, Miami, Kickapoo, and Shawnee. However, if an Indian legend is said to be of Algonkin origin, it generally means that it comes from an East Coast tribe, such as the Pequod, Mohegan, Delaware, Abnaki, or Micmac.

The Alsea were a small tribe of Yakonan Indians from western Oregon. Once numerous, by 1906 they were reduced to about a dozen individuals who took refuge among the Siletz tribe, which has since disappeared also. Their vestiges have been absorbed by a number of other Oregon tribes.

The name Apache comes from the Zuni word 'apachu,' meaning "enemy." Their own name for themselves is N'de or Dineh, the People. In the early 1500's, a group of Athapascan-speaking people drifted down from their original home in western Canada into what is now Arizona, New Mexico, and the four-corners area. They were split into smaller tribes and bands, including the Lipan, the Jicarilla (from the Spanish for "little basket," referring to their pitch-lined drinking cups), Chiricahua, Tonto, Mescalero, and White Mountain Apaches.

The Apache were a nomadic people and lived in conical brush shelters (wicki-ups) to which they often attached a ramada--four upright poles roofed over with branches. They hunted and gathered wild plants; much later they also began to plant corn and squash. They usually dressed in
deerskin and wore their hair long and loose, held by a headband. Men also wore long, flapping breechcloths. Their soft, thigh-high moccasins were important in land of chaparral, thorns, and cacti, since they were primarily runners of incredible stamina rather than riders (though they acquired horsese early and were excellent horsemen). Their main weapon was the bow, and it was used long after they had guns.

Apache women wove particularly striking baskets, some made so tightly that a needle could not be inserted between their coils. They carried their babies on cradleboards. Women played an important role in family affairs; they could own property and become medicine women.

The Lipan Apache at first kept peace with the whites, whom they encountered in the sixteenth century. Fierce nomadic raiders, the Lipans roamed west Texas and much of New Mexico east of the Rio Grande, and eventually became the scourge of miners and settlers, particularly in Mexico.

Their great chiefs included Cochise and Mangus Colorado, as well as Goyathlay, the One Who Yawns, better known as Geronimo. Apache attacks on whites were not unprovoked, for these tribes had often been victims of treachery, broken agreements, and massacres by white Americans and Mexicans. They were not finally subdued until the 1880's.

The Jicarillas, now numbering 1,500 to 2,000, live on a 750,000 acre reservation high in the mountains of northern New Mexico.

The White Mountain Apaches (also called Sierra Blancas or Coyoteros) live in Arizona and New Mexico, including about 6,000 on the 1,600,000 acre Fort Apache Reservation in Arizona.

In 1905, there were only 25 Lipan survivors left, and they were eventually placed on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.

Athapascan refers to a language group, and it represents the most far-flung of the original North American tongues. Athapascan dialects or related languages are spoken by people in the interior of what is now Alaska, on the western coast of Canada, among some tribes in northern California, and by the Navajo and Apache of New Mexico, Arizona, and Utah.

The Blackfoot people were really three closely allied Algonquian tribes--the Siksikas, or Blackfoot proper; the Bloods; and the Piegans. Siksikas means Black-footed People, and they may at one time have worn black moccasins. The Bloods probably got their name from the vermilion color of their face paint. Piegan means People with Poor or Badly Dressed Robes. These tribes drifted down from Canada into what is now Montana, driving the Kootenay and shoshoni before them. They were much feared by early white trappers and fur traders, because they killed all white men who entered their hunting grounds in search of beaver. Though they inhabited the northern edge of the buffalo range, the Blackfoot tribes lived in tipis and hunted bison like other Plains Indians. The Piegans' main ceremonials were the Sun Dance and the All Comrades festival held by the warrior societies.

About 7,000 Blackfoot, 2,100 Piegans, and 2,000 Bloods now live on the Blackfoot reservation at Browning, Montana, at the southern edge of Glacier National Park, and some have joined the Piegan Agency in Alberta, Canada.

(See Blackfoot)

Brule Sioux:
The Brules belong to the Oceti Shakowin--the seven council fires of the Lakota or Teton-wan, the seven Western Sioux tribes. Their name comes from the French word 'brule' -- "burned." The Brules are very traditional people, maintaining their old customs and rituals, including the Sun Dance, flesh offerings, the sweat-lodge ceremony, the vision quest, and the co-called tyuwipi ceremonies. Many Brules belong to the Native American Church, which follows the peyote cult. Today they occupy the Lower Brule, a reservation in mid South Dakota.

The Caddo belonged to a confederacy of tribes of the Caddoan language family, whose southern members were the Caddo proper, the Wichita, and the Kichai. It's northern representatives were the Arikara and Pawnees. Mostly sedentary planters, the Caddo, as well as the Wichita, lived in large dome-shaped, thatched grass huts, which were first mentioned by members of Coronado's expedition. Caddoans were once scattered throughout Oklahoma, the Red River area of Arkansas, and northern Texas.

About 500 surviving Caddos were eventually settled with the Wichitas in Indian Territory (now Oklahoma).

The name Cherokee probably comes from 'chiluk-ki', the Chocktaw word meaning Cave People. The Cherokee are one of the so-called Five Civilized Tribes, a term which first occurs in 1876 in reports of the Indian Office; these tribes had their own constitutional governments, modeled on that of the United States, the expenses of which were paid out of their own communal funds. They also farmed after the manner of their white neighbors.

Wealth and fertile land were the Cherokees' undoing. Under the "Indian removal" policy of Andrew Jackson and Van Buren, troops commanded by General Winfield Scott drove the Indians out of their ancestral lands so that white settlers could occupy them. Herded into so-called Indian Territory west of the Mississippit, one third of those removed perished on the march, remembered by them as the infamous Trail of Tears.

Most Cherokees now live in Oklahoma, though a small number managed to stay behind. Their population has increased to about 7,000 living people, living on about 56,000 acres on the Cherokee Reservation in North Carolina.

The name Cheyenne derives from the French 'chien', "dog," because of their ritual dog eating. The Cheyenne call themselves Tis-Tsis-Tas, the People. They are an Algonquian Plains tribe that came to the praries from the Great Lakes region some two to three hundred years ago. They lived in tipis and were buffalo hunters, great horsemen, and brave warriors. They were closely allied
with the Western Sioux tribes and fought with them at the Little Bighorn against Custer.

Forced after the last battles into a malaria-infested part of the Indian Territory, one group under Dull Knife and Little Wolf made a heroic march back to their old hunting grounds, eventually settling on the Lame Deer Reservation in Montana.

Another part of the tribe, the southern Cheyenne, remained in Oklahoma.

The Chinook lived near the Columbia River in what is now Washington state. They were met and described by Lewis and Clark in 1805, and their trade jargon o lingua franca was widely used throughout the Northwest. Such words as "potlatch" and "hooch" are derived from it.

Cochiti is a Kersean-speaking pueblo situated on the Rio Grande south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Cochiti moved to their present reservation from their original home in Frijoles Canyon, now Bandelier National Monument, in New Mexico, and ruins of their old villages can be found on nearby Cochiti Mesa. The population in 1970 was around 500. Farming, jewelry making, and pottery making are important economic activities.

Cochiti is the home of Helen Cordero, the internationally known ceramist, whose pottery group called "Storyteller," a jolly ceramic figure surrounded by clinging children, is prized by collectors and widely imitated.

The Coos tribe, for whom Coos Bay in Oregon was named, are now almost entirely assimilated into the surrounding culture. They once occu0pied the Pacific coastal lands of Oregon.

The Cree Indians, an Algonquian tribe sometimes called Knisteneau, were essentiall forest people, though an offshoot, the so-called Plains Cree, were buffalo hunters. They lived mostly in Canada, but a few are now sharing reservations with other tribes in North Dakota. They were first encountered by the French Jesuits in 1640, lost their people in a smallpox epidemic in 1776, fought many battles with the Sioux, and suffered a great defeat at the hands of the Blackfeet in 1870. The Cree lived by hunting, fishing, and trapping. Muskrat meat was one of their staples. According to Denig, who lived among them in the 1850's, they made sacrifices to the sun, the Great Master of Life.

The Crow were a typical Plains tribe of hard-riding buffalo hunters. They split off from the Hidatsa tribe at some time during the second half of the eighteenth century, some say over a quarrel about buffalo meat; others say as a result of rivalry between two chiefs. The Crow later divided into two bands: the River and the Mountain Crows.

Once semisedentary corn planters who lived in earth huts and whose women practiced the art of pottery, the Crow had already reverted to nomadic hunting people when they were first encountered by whites. This change probably resulted from the acquisition of the horse and gun, both of which made the nomadic way of life easy and glorious.

Like other Indians of the Plains, they lived in tipis, reputedly, theirs were the largest of all tribes. They were fierce fighters and skilled at the universal sport of intertribal horse stealing. The Crows were generally friendly to the whites and furnished scouts for the Indian-fighting army.

The Crows now live on their reservation in Montana, not far from the Custer Battlefield.

The Flatheads are a Salishan tribe encountered by Lewis and Clark in 1805. Their ancestral home was the Bitterroot Valley in Montana, but they did not resist their removal to their present reservation in Montana, where they were absorbed by the related Salish and Kootenay tribes. Though they lived on the edge of Plains Indian culture, the paintings of Father Nicolas Point, who was in charge of their Catholic mission in the 1840's, show them dressed and hunting buffalo like typuical Plains Indians, except that some men wear stovepipe hats bestowed upon them by the whites. Contrary to popular belief, the Flatheads did not artificially flatten their foreheads.

The Haida (Xa-ida --the People) live on Queen Charlotte Island off the coast of British Columbia. The first European to visit them was Juan Perez, who arrived in 1774 in the Spanish corvette Santiago, followed in 1786 by the famous French explorer La Perouse. Contact with Europeans, as usual in most cases, was catastrophic for the Haida, bringing them impoverishment, smallpox epidemics, and venereal diseases. The Haida were great hunters of whales and sea otters. Canoes were to them, as one visitor remarked, what horses were to the Plains Indians. Their sometimes very large fessels were hollowed out of single huge cedar trunks. The Haida are best known as totem-pole carvers and as the builders of large, decorated wooden houses. Their gifted artists are still turning out splendid masks and other carved objects.

Hopi land is an enclave within the much larger Navajo Reservation in Arizona. Their name, Hopitu-shinumu, means Peaceful People, and throughout their history they have lived up to it. They belong to the Uto-Aztecan language family, though the Hopi in the village of Hano, curiously enough, speak Tewa. The founders of Hano were Rio Grande Pueblos fleeing their ancient home under Spanish pressure to skeek a refuge among the Peaceful Ones. The Spaniards made periodic attempts to Christianize the Hopis and fought several battles with them, but eventually left their pueblos alone. They were alos the westernmost of the pueblos and therefore hundreds of miles from the center of Spanish power--and intrusion. The Hopis have been planters of corn since time immemorial, skillfully coaxing their crops to thrive even in desert sands. In the traditional partition of labor, the women made pottery and wove beautiful baskets, while men did the weaving and hunting.

The Inuit are the native inhabitants of Greenland and the North American subartic regions. The more familiar name Eskimo, meaning "those who eat their food raw," was actually a term used by neighboring Indians. The Inuit are hunters who chased seals, walrus, caribou, and an occasional polar bear. On land they move with the help of dogsleds; on the water they use their kayaks and umiaks, open boats made with wooden frames and skins.

While they can still build igloos when and if they have to, today most live in European-style houses with electricity and other modern conveniences.

Today the Inuit live all through the Arctic, with major settlements in Alaska, Greenland, and northern Canada, and a few have crossed the Bering Strait and settled in Siberia.

The name Iroquois, meaning "real adders," is of Algonquian origin. The Iroquois referred to themselves as "We Who Are of the Extended Lodge." They are not a tribal group at all, but an alliance of tribes that dominated the vast area stretching from the Atlantic Coast to Lake Erie, and from Ontario down to North Carolina. According to tradition their league was formed about 1570 by the efforts of Hiawatha, a Mohawk (not to be confused with Longfellow's romantic hero), and his disciple, Dekanawida, a Huron by birth. The original Five Nations confederacy was made up of the Mohawk, Oneida, Onondaga, Cayuga, and Senica tribes which before that time had often been at war with each other. In 1715 the Tuscarora joined the league, and from that time the Iroquois have been known as the Six Nations. The league fromed a democratic tribal republic with councils of elected delegates. Chiefs were elected from nominations by the tribes matrons, and acted with the consent and cooperation of the women of child-bearing age.

Isleta is the southernmost pueblo, situated about twelve miles south of Albuquerque. Approximately 2,000 Isletans occupy their reservation of some 211,000 acres. The Franciscans established a monastery at Isleta as early as 1629. In 1681 Spaniards commanded by Govenor Otermin destroyed Isleta as a punishment for having taken part in the Great Pueblo Revolt. The village was rebuilt and resettled early in the eighteenth century by Tiwa Indians who had taken sanctuary among the Hopis. The people of Isleta speak Tiwa, in the Kiowa-Tanoan linguistic family. A government report of the 1890's calls Isletas industrious farmers who raise cattle and maintain large vineyards; they probably learned to cultivate grapes, a rare activity among Indians, from the Franciscan monks who came from California.

Jicarilla Apache:
(See Apache)

The Kalapuya were a group of tribes who once occupied the Willamette Valley in northwestern Oregon and practiced a mild form of slavery. Marriage was arranged by purchase. The Kalapuya also flattened the fronts of their heas by "fronto-optical pressure." In 1824 their population was decimated by epidemics introduced by the whites.

The Karok (from karuk--"upstream") called themselves Arra-Arra, meanig Men or Humans. A tribe of salmon fishers, they lived along the Klamath River between more numerous Yurok bleow and the Shasta above them. Due to the absence of redwood in their own area, they made no canoes but bought them from the Yurok. Their culture closely resembled that of their Hupa and Yurok neighbors.

The Kwakiutl are a tribe of Indians which, with the Nootka, belonged to the Wakashan language group. Kwakiutl, according to some linguists, means "beach at the north side of the river," though some tirbal elders translate it as "smoke of the rivers." They are located on Vancouver Island and along the coast of Briish Columbia. The Kwakiutl used to live in large painted houses decorated with carvings, and their elaborate totem poles and masks are famous. They fished and went to war in huge canoes often painted and decorated with carved prow figures. They gave solemn potlatch feasts, during which a slave was sometimes clubbed to death with an ornamental "slave killer" to show the owners contempt for property. They waged war for prestige as well as to capture slaves. The Kwakiutl had secret societies, such as the Cannibal society, whose members were supposed to have power from the Cannibal Spirit of the North and who put on a spectacular--and strictly ceremonial--cannibal (hamatsa) dance.

Today the Kwakiutl fish with modern boats and equipment; they also work in canneries and the timber industry in British Columbia.

Lipan Apache:
(See Apache)

The Lumni are a Salishan tribe of northwestern Washington. Their culture was that of a typical coastal tribe: salmon was their main food, and their ceremonies revolved around salmon and fishing. The women made fine baskets and were renowned for their special dog-hair blankets. The Lumni fought annual ceremonial battles with the Haida for the purpose of capturing slaves. These encounters are still remembered in the yearly stommish, or "warrior," ceremony which includes canoe racing, dancing, and a salmon steak barbecue. Some 700 Lumnis and related Nooksacks now live on the 7,000 acre Reservation with headquarters at Bellingham, Washington.

The Maidu are a northern California tribe, now living above the San Francisco Bay Area. They are known particularly for their exquisite basketry.

The name Maliseet or Malecite comes from the Micmac words :malisit, "broken talkers," or mahnesheets, "slow talkers." An Algonquian family, the Maliseet were part of the loosely knit Abnaki confederation of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Maine. Linguistically they were closely related to the Passamaquoddy.

Champlain met them in 1604 and wrote: "When we were seated they began to smoke, as was their custom, before making any discourse. They made us presents of game and venison. All that day and the following night they continued to sing, dance, and feast until day reappeared. They were clothed in beaver skins."

By 1904 the Maliseet were reduced to about 800 people in New Brunswick and Quebec provinces, Canada.

The Metis, who are part French and part Indian, live in Canada. Their name comes from the French metis, "mixed." The Ojibway called them wissakode-winini, "burned trees" or "half-burned wood man," alluding to their part-light, part-dark complexions. Some Metis have adopted Indian customs and speak a patois made up of native, French, and English words. Some consider themselves white Canadians; others proudly call themselves Metis and stress their Indian ancestry. Their tales show marked European influences.

Micmac comes from migmak or nigmak, meaning "allies." The Micmac are a large Algonquian trive of Nova Scotia, Cape Breton Island, Prince Edward Island, and New Brunswick. They were first visited by Cabot in 1497; in fact, the three Indians he took back to England were probably Micmacs. The Micmacs were expert canoeists and fishermen. Fierce and warlike, they sided with the French during the French and Indian Wars.

The Miwok, whose name means Man, were a central California tribe of Penutian stock, living between what is now the modern city of Fresno and the Sierras. They ate nuts, acorns, even grasshoppers; fished; and hunted deer and rabbit. They lived in conical houses made of ples, and their women used communal, many-holed grinding stones to make meal from seeds, nuts, and acorns. Their mystery ceremony was the kuksyu dance, in which the participants wore feathered headdresses. The Miwok had a rich mythology and, before the gold rush, were a large tribe occupying 100 villages. They are now practically extinct.

The Modoc, meaning "southerners," are Penutian stock and speak a language nearly identical with that of the Klamath tribe. They lived around the lower Klamath Lake in southwestern Oregon and fought hard and long with the government tried to force them onto reservations. Let by Chief Kintpuash, called Captain Jack by whites, they holed up in the Lava Beds, a region of basalt rocks, deep crevasses, and many caves, in the co-called Modoc War of 1872-1873. They defended themselves for months against thousands of soldiers equipped with cannon. After their surrender, the Modoc leaders were hanged, supposedly for killing two members of a U.S. peace mission. Part of the tribe was removed to the Indian Territory in Oklahoma; others were settled on the Klamath Reservation, where a few hundred survive to this day.

The Mojave (or Mohave) form the most numerous and warlike of the Yuman tribes living on both sides of the Colorado River. Described by early travelers as handsome, athletic, and brave, they cultivated corn, squash, pumpkins, beans and melons; gathered pinon nuts; and caught fish. They used to paint and tattoo their bodies, and they cremated their dead. They lived in scattered four-sided stick, brush, and mud dwellings and stored their gain in sylindrical flat roofed structures. At first they welcomed the Spaniards, but later resisted fiercely when the invaders tried to force the white man's way of life upon them. The Mojaves and their cousins, the Chemehuvis, now share the Colorado River Reservation in Arizona, roughly 270,000 acres supporting slightly less than 2,000 people.

(See Yavapi)

The Multnomah tribe occupied what is now western Oregon, near Portland, and the few remaining members have been almost entirely assimilated into the white cultures which surround them.

The Navajo are an Athapascan tribe that drifted down from northwestern Canada into the Southwest around 1300. They call themselves Dineh, the People, as do their linguistic cousins in Canada and Alaska, from whom they are separated by some 1,500 miles. fierce, skin-clad, nomadic raiders, they terrorized the sedentary corn-planting tribes of the Southwest.

The Pueblos called them apachu, meaning "enemy-strangers." This led to the mixed Tewa and Spanish "Apaches de Nabahu," which ultimately became Navajo. The Navajos adopted many cultural prctices from their Pueblo neighbors, such as masked dances (yebichai), basketry, and pottery. They became fine silversmiths, learning the craft from the Spaniards, just as they learned weaving from the Pueblos. During the mid-nineteenth century they began making jewelry and weaving rugs; their simple cheif's blankets have evolved into the well-known Navajo rugs of today.

With a population of over 130,000, the Navajo are the largest tribe in the United States. Their reservation extends over 200 miles of New Mexico and Arizona, from the Gallup area all the way to the Grand Canyon, and contains such natural wonders ad Moument Valley and Canyon de Chelly, as well as large coal and oil deposits. Navajos are a comparatively wealthy nation; they farm and raise large herds of sheep, as well as some cattle.

The women still wear their traditional costume--velveteen blouses, colorful ankle-length skirts, and silver and turquoise necklaces. Their traditional home is the hogan, a low, dome-shaped structure of mud-covered logs with a smoke hole at the top.

Nez Perce:
The Nez Perces (French for "pierced noses") got this name from their custom of wearing a piece of dentalium shell through their septum. they belonged to the seminomadic Plateau culture, roaming over the dry, high country of Idaho, eastern Oregon, and eastern Washington. They were known for their trading acumen, their bravery and generosity, their skill in breeding the famous Appaloosa horse, and the fine basketry of their women. They were consistently friendly to the whites. A large tribe of the Shahaptian language family, they lived in large communal houses containing several families. Unjustly driven from their beloved Wallowa Valley, they fought fiercely and skillfully during the Nez Pierce War of 1877 under their great leader, Chief Joseph, who won the admiration even of his enemies by his courage and humanity in conducting this war. Today some 1,500 members of the tribe live on the 88,000 acre Nez Perce Reservation with headquarters in Lapwai, Idaho.

The Ojibway, or as the whites misname them, the Chippewa, are an Algonquian tribe living today on a number of reservations, mainly in Minnesota. They migrated from the East late in the sixteenth or early in the seventeenth century. They were usually allied with the French, swapping beaver and other pelts for firearms, which they used to drive the Sioux to the West. The Ojibway took part in Pontiac's uprising, and by 1851 white settlers had pushed them beyond the Mississippi. Their most valuable food plant is wild rice. Their culture hero is Manabozho, the Great Rabbit, whose deeds they depict on bark paintings.

The Okanogan (or Okinagan) were a small Salishan tribe of seminomadic plateau people who were scattered over the high country of Idaho, western Oregon, and eastern Washington. They were grouped in small, roving bands of hunters, fishermen, and gatherers of cama roots, wild seeds, and berries. Like many Salishans, they were good basket makers. In 1906 there were some 525 Okanogans left in Washington state and a further 825 in British Columbia. Today about 3,000 people, descendants of related tribes, live on the Colville REservation in Washington, among them the former Okanogans.

The Oneida--the People of the Rock--are one of the original Five Nations of the Iroquois league. Like other Iroquois, they live in longhouses occupied by several families and owned by women. They traced their descent through the mother. The tribe originally lived near Onedia Lake in New York but, under pressure, sold their ancestral lands and oved to Wisconsin in 1838. Unlike other Iroquois tribes, the Onedia at first stayed neutral and eventually joined the Tuscarora as the only Iroquois nations siding with the Americans against the British in the Revolutionary War. Today roughly 1,800 people reside on the Onedia Reservation in Wisconsin.

The Osage, or Wazhazhe, are Plains Indians of the Siouan language group. Their original villages were situated in Kansas, Missouri, and Illionis. According to their legends, they originated in the sky and descended through four layers of sky until they alighted on seven rocks of different colors near a red oak tree. Later the people received four kinds of corn and four kinds of pumpkin seeds which fell from the left hind legs of four buffalo. The tribe was divided into gentes, which monopolized certain tasks, such as making moccasins, pipes, war standards, or arrowheads. One gente furnished heralds (camp criers) to the tribe. The Osage were eventually removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma, where they now live.

The Oto, also called Otoe and Wat'ota, are a Siouan tribe, probably an offshoot of the Winnebago, from whom they are said to have separated at Green Bay, Wisconsin, as they wantered westward in pursuit of buffalo. This group later split further into three closely related tribes--the Oto proper, the Iowa, and the Missouri. Marquette knew of them, and Le Sueur met them in 1700 near Blue Earth River in what is now northwest Minnesota. They lived in earth lodges, though they used skin tipis when traveling or hunting. They were rudimentary farmers but avid buffalo hunters, and they early adopted Plains Indian culture. In 1882 the last remnants of the tribe left Nebraska, where they had been living along the Platte River, and settled in Oklahoma.

The Papago--the Bean People--are a Southwestern tribe closely related to the Pima. They are probably descendants of the ancient Hohokam. The Papago are an agricultural people who irrigate by flooding. Though frugal and peaceful, they could be tough when attacked, and they defended themselves stoutly against raiding bands of Apaches. Papago women are renowned for their wonderful baskets woven from yucca fiber. Their traditional houses were round, dome-shaped, and flat topped, 12 to 20 feet in diameter, and usually had a brush shelter (ramada) attached.

They now live on a four-part reservation of almost three million acres in Arizona. Some offshoots of the tribe also live in Sonora, Mexico.

The name Passamaquoddy comes from peskede makadi, meaning "plenty of pollok" (a species of herring). They are a tribe of forest hunters and fishermen speaking a coastal Algonquian dialect. They were experts at canoeing, fishing, and trapping and lived in conical wigwams covered with birch bark or woven mats. Several families often shared one dwelling. They belonged to the larger Abnaki confederation, an alliance of Northeast woodlands tribes that also included the Penobscot and Maliseet.

Some 600 Passamaquoddy now live on the Pleasant Point and Indian Township Reservations in Washington County, Maine.

The Pawnees, members of the large Caddoan family, were a federation of tribes living near the Platte River in what is now Nebraska. They were semisedentary , lived in earth lodges, planted corn, and hunted buffalo and other game. Their tribal name comes from pariki, meaning "horns," probably because they used to dress their hair in a horn-like coil stiffened with grease. Their own name for themselves was Men of Men. Their chief deity was Tirawa Atius, the Creator, who "threw down from the sky to the human beings everything they needed." Hereditary keepers maintained their sacred bundles, and they had secret societies related to supernatural animal spirits. The Pawnees, who once numbered 25,000, lost half their population due to cholera between 1840 and 1850, owing to contact with westbound settlers taking the Platte River Trail. By the end of the century their numbers had dropped to a few hundred. Though any Pawnees had served the U.S. Army faithfully as scouts during the Indian Plains wars, they shared the fate of many other tries, being removed in 1876 to Oklahoma, where they settled with the Ponca and Oto.

The name Penobscot means Rockland or It Flows on the rocks, alluding to a waterfall near their village of Old Town, Maine, a few miles above Bangor. The Penobscot are a once-powerful New England tribe of Algonquian stock. They belong to the Abnaki confederation, which included such tribes as the Malecites and Passamquoddies. They made canoes, fishnets, shell wampum, carved pipes, and intricate beading and quillwork. They had a reputation for peacefulness and
hospitality. Some 500 Penobscot now live on a reservation comprising 4,500 acres at Indian Island, Old Town, Maine.

The Pequod, or Destroyers, once a much-dreaded Algonquian people, were originally part of the Mohegan tribe. They occupied a strip of land reaching from what is now New London, Conneticut, into Rhode Island. The Pequods were conquered by English settlers in 1637 during the so-called Pequod War. Spurred on by Puritan preachers who called the Indians "fiends of hell" and "children of Satan," the settlers stormed the Pequod village on the Mystic River in Conneticut, slaughtering and burning to death more than 600 of the inhabitants. Surviving prisoners became slaves of New England colonists; some were even sold to West Indian planters. In 1832 there was a remnant of about 40 mixed-blood Pequods left.

In the early 1900's about 12 people remained who considered themselves in some way the descendants of the Pequods and Mohegans. They are now considered completely exterminated.

(See Blackfoot)

The Pima, and their closely related neighbors and cousins, the Papago, are thought to be descendants of the ancient Hohokam--Those Who Have Gone Before--prehistoric makers of vast system of irrigation canals. Members of the Uto-Aztecan language group, the Pima live in southern Arizona near the Gila and Salt rivers. Their earliest contacts with Spaniards occurred in 1589, when they lived in scattered 'rancherias' tending their fields of corn, beans, squash, cotton, and tobacco. Like their Hohokam ancestors, they had an advanced system of irrigation. They were consistently peaceful and hospitable to whites. The typical old-style Pima house was a windowless daub-and-wattle dwelling shaped "like an inverted kettle." Today these dwellings have been replaced everywhere by the typical Southwestern adobe house. The Pima are possibly the best Indian basket makers. Their women weave beautiful baskets of all shapes, designs, and sizes, from huge, man-high storage baskets to miniature horsehair baskets.

Most Pima, together with members of the Maricopa community, now live on the Gila River Reservation in Arizona, with headquarters at Sacaton.

The Pomo are a large and thriving community in northern California, well known for their beautiful basketwork. Ponca: The Ponca, a Siouan tribe closely related to the Omaha, Kansa, and Osage, lived in permanent villages of earth lodges. They planted corn, hunted buffalo, and adoped a number of Plains customs, including the annual Sun Dance, which they called the Great Mystery Dance.

After several migrations, the Ponca lived for some time near Lake Andes, South Dakota. There, according to their traditions, they received the gift of the sacred pipes. They finally settled at the mouth of the Niobrara River in Nebraska where, Lewis and Clark reported in 1804, their number had been reduced by smallpox to a mere 200. For reasons never quite satisfactorily explained, the Ponca land was given to the Sioux in spite of the fact that the Ponca had always been friendly to the whites while the Sioux had fought them. By 1870 their numbers had increased to about 800 but later, due to the enmity of their Sioux neighbors, they were removed to Indian Territory in Oklahoma. Half of them died as the result of their forced removal, malnutrition, and new diseases against which they had no immunity. A few Ponca remained behind in Nebraska seeking a home among related tribes.

The Salinans, a California Indian language group, were named for the Salinas River, which flowed through their territory in Monterey--San Louis Obispo area. Their native name was Hokan. In the late 1700's the Spaniards established two missions among these small tribes. After contact with the Europeans, and especially after the gold rush, their numbers declined rapidly. Though they had once been counted in the thousands, by 1906 there were only 20 persons described as Salinans. The tribe is now practically extinct. San Juan: San Juan, the home of one of the authors of this book, is the largest Tewa-speaking pueblo. Located on the banks of the Rio Grande 25 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, it is a traditional village in which the old culture, language, and ceremonies are still maintained in spite of some intermarriage with whites. Its native name was Oke, but in 1598 the Spanish Govenor Onate established his capital at this pueblo and renamed it San Juan de los Caballeros. In 1782 the village was ravaged by epidemics introduced by contact with Spaniards. Today some 700 Tewa Indians occupy about 12,000 acres of San Juan land.

The Seneca, meaning Place of the Stone, were one of the tribes making up the Six Nations League of the Iroquois. They were also known as the People of the Mountain and in the confederacy occupied the place of "keepers of the great black doorway." The great Iroquois religious leader and prophet, Handsome Lake, was a Seneca. He combined traditional Iroquois religion with certain white concepts, teaching his people to build houses like those of white farmers, to work hard, to instruct their children, and to abstain from the white man's intoxicating drinks. The code of Handsome Lake is still kept by man Iroquois people. The Senecas originally lived west of Lake Erie and along the Allegheny River. Believing that the English would protect them against land-grabbing colonials, they joined the Mohawks under Joseph Brant (Thayendanega) to fight for the British during the American Revolution. they now live in various places in the Northeast, including the Allegheny, Cattaraugus, and Tonawanda Reservations in New York State. In the 1950's the Army Corps of Engineers built the Kinzua Dam, which inundated a great part of the Allegeny Senica Reservation, in spite of a treaty of 1794, signed by George Washington himself, guaranteeing the Indians this land
inviolate and in perpetuity.

The Serrano still live in California, though a long history of contact with white missionaries and other settlers has eroded their cultural integrity consdieralbly.

The Shasta were a group of small tribes in northern California near the Klamath River and in the Mount Shasta Valley. They were sedentary and lived in small villages of half-sunken plank houses. Their main food was fish, particularly salmon, which they netted, trapped, and speared. They preserved their fish for winter by drying and smoking it. Acorns, seeds, and roots augmented their diet; hunting played a comparatively small role, and their main weapon was the bow. The intrusion of gold miners and prospectors in 1855-1860 spelled the Shasta's doom, and they have now virtually vanished.

The Sia, or Zia, are a small Kersean-speaking pueblo in New Mexico.

The Sioux nation is comprised of three divisions, the Lakota or Teton-Wan, the Dakota, and the Nakota. Lakota or Tetons are the seven westernmost trans-Missouri Sioux tribes; they refer to themselves as the Ikche-Wichasha--The Real Natural Human Beings. The Seven Tribes, or Ocheti Shakowin (Seven Campfires), which compose the Lakota are the Hunkapa, the Oglala, the Minneconjou, the Brules (also known as Sichangu or Burned Thighs), the Ooenunpa or Two Kettles, the Itazipcho or No Bows, and the Shiasapa or Blackfeet, not to be confused with the Algonquian Blackfoot (Siksika) of Montana. The Lakota are the hard-riding, buffalo-hunting Plains Indians par excellence, the Red Knights of the Prairie, the people of Red Cloud, Sitting Bull, and Crazy Horse. Theirs was the nomadic culture of the tipi and the dog--later horse--travois. They worship Wakan Tanka--Tunkashila, the grandfather spirit--pray with the sacred pipe, go on vision quests involving four-day-and-night fast, and still practice self-torture (piercing) during the Sun Dance, the most solemn of all Plains rituals. Originally friendly to the whites, the Lakota fought hard when they were finally forced to defend their ancient hunting grounds. They defeated General Crook at Rosebud, and annihilated Custer on the Little Bighorn. They fought their last battle against overwhelming odds, and in the face of quick-firing cannon, at Wounded Knee in 1890.

The Slavey Indians (whose name, incidentally, has no connection to the English word "slave") lived inland in British Columbia, and are related culturally and linguistically to the Plains tribes to the south. Their Plateau region culture, as it is termed, represents a transition between the northernmost of the northwest Plains tribes and those of the subarctic. They still make their living as hunters, fishermen, and trappers in this economically marginal geographic area, too far north for much agricultural productivity.

The Snohomish lived in tiny communities scattered across the Olympic Peninsula in what is now western Washington. Only remnants of the original tribes still exist.

The Snoqualmie or Snoqualmu were a small Salishan tribe of the Pacific Coast. Salmon was their main food, canoeing their form of traveling. The men fished and hunted, the women wove baskets and made mats of cedar bark. They believed they were descended from mythical animals, such as the wolf. By 1854, the Snoqualmies had shrunk to a population of some 200. A handful of Snoqualmies finally went to the Tulalip Reservation in Washington to settle among their Snohomish cousins.

The Tewa are a group of Pueblo Indians related by language. Today they live in six villages near the Rio Grande, all north of Santa Fe, namely, Nambe, Pojoaque, Tesuque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, and San Juan. According to legend, the Tewa entered this world by ascending from Sipofene, a mythical place beneath a lake. In some Tewa villages it is said that the people climbed up a Douglas fir rising out of the lake, and that the first one up was Poseyemu, the Tewa culture hero, a supernatural being sometimes called the son of the sun, who taught the art of living to the people. Ancient beliefs and traditions are still among the Tewa. Their pueblos are divided into two parts, so-called moitie, the summer and winter people.

The Tiwa (in Spanish, Tigua or Tiguex) form a Pueblo language group. Tiwa-speaking villages are the northern Rio Grande pueblos of Taos and Picuris and the more southern villages of Sandia and Isleta in the Albuquerque region. The early Spanish explorers described the Tiwas as cultivating corn, squash, beans, and melons, and as wearing cotton garments and long robes made of feathers. The Spaniards plundered and destroyed several Tiwa pueblos, killing, according to their own chronicler, Castaneda, every male and enslaving the women and children. It was in Taos pueblo that the great Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was planned by Pope, a Tiwa spiritual leader from San Juan pueblo. Taos is the northernmost of the pueblos, a natural meeting place for Pueblos and souther Plains Indians. The people of Taos therefore show a number of Plains traits, such as the braided hair worn by the men.

The Tlingit, the northernmost of the great Northwest Coast tribes, lived in the numberous villages from Prince William Sound down to the Alaska Panhandle. Like the Haida, Tsimshian, and Kwakiutl, they occupied large, rectangular, decorated and painted wooden houses; fished in big dugout canoes; held potlatches upon the death and burial of important persons; made war to capture slaves as well as the booty necessar for giveaways during the potlatch. The sea provided nearly their entire diet. The Tlingit were also sculptors and carvers of totem poles, masks, ceremonial rattles, bowls, and painted boxes. Their women wove the famious Chilkat blankets and also fine, multicolored baskets. Their dress was highly decorative, often covered with the images of eagles and other animals, the outlines formed of round pieces of pearl shells or buttons acquired from whites. Women wore ornaments in their lower lips, so-called labrets.

The Tlingit were harshly treated and exploited by Russian fur traders. Today some 250 Tlingits live at Craig on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska.

The Toltecs created a splendid civilization in the Valley of Mexico, their chief cities being Tula and Teotihaucan, the latter the site of the great Pyramid of the Sun thirty miles northeast of present-day Mexico City. The Toltec cities, in which must be included Chichen Itza, the Mayan site in Yucatan once dominated by the Toltecs, were as much ceremonial centers as they were populations centers. Traders and artisans, workers in metal, clay, cotton, obsidian, stone, and feathers, the Toltecs spread the cult of the gentle god Quetzalcoatl, represented by the Plumed Rattlesnake, as well as the practice of the ritual ball game. The Toltecs' empire reached its zenith around A.D. 900 and later declined as a result of foreign and civil wars.

The Tsiimshian, or People of the Skeena River, are a typical Pacific Northwest Coast tribe, culturally related to the Haida and Kwakiutl and, like them, artistic carvers and weavers of the Chilkat blankets. Their main food was salmon, halibut, cod, and shellfish, and they also hunted whales. Their original home was on the Skeena River in British Columbia. In 1884 a Church of England clergyman persuaded them to move to Alaska. About a thousand Tsimshian now occupy the Annette Island reserve of 86,500 acres in southeastern Alaska and take an active political and economic role in the state.

The Utes, who belong to the Uto-Aztecan language family, are a Shoshonean tribe of western Colorado and eastern Utah. They shared many cultural traits with the more northern Plains tribes; they performed the Sun Dance and lived in tipis. They acquired horses in 1740 and ranged from southern Wyoming down to Taos. The Utes were generally friendly to the whites; their best-known chief, Ouray, made a treaty of peace and friendship with the government. He was a welcome guest, as well as a host, among white silver miners. The Utes now raise cattle for a living. Some 700 southern Utes live on a reservation of 300,000 acres at Ignacio, Colorado. The northern Weminuche Utes consist of some 1,800 people on 560,000 acres on the Ute Mountain Reservation in Colorado. Still another 1,200 Utes live on the million-acre Uintah and Ouray Reservation at Fort Duchesne, Utah.

The Wasco (meaning "small bowl of horn") are a Chinookian tribe of sedentary fishing people living along the banks of the Columbia River in Oregon. Their food, such as salmon, sturgeon, and eels, came mainly from the river. They caught salmon in the spring with dip nets or by spearing, and bartered pounded and dried salmon with other tribes. During the cold season they lived in partially underground winter houses with roofs of cedar bark; in summer they moved to lighter dwellings made of fir poles. They maintained ceremonial sweat houses, practiced head flattening, and performed puberty rites for both boys and girls. The Wasco are famous for their beautiful twined baskets. They share the Warm Springs Reservation in Oregon with the northern Paiutes and Warm Springs Indians.

White Mountain Apache:
(See Apache)

The Winnebago (from Winipig--People near the Dirty Water), a Midwestern woodlands tribe, belong to the Siouan family. Among their deities and supernaturals, to whom they made offerings, are Earth Mother, Disease Giver, Sun, Moon, Morning Star, Night Spirit, Thunderbird, Turtle, and the Great Rabbit. The tribe is divided into two so-called phratries, the upper or air people, and the lower or earth people. During the War of Independence and the War of 1812, the Winnebago sided with the British. Between 1829 and 1866, whites forced the Winnebago to give up their land and go to new homes no less than seven times. Some Winnebago joined Black Hawk in his war of 1832. They were removed to the Blue Earth River in Minnesota but were driven from there by white settlers, who were afraid of Indians after the great Sioux uprising.

Today some 800 Winnebago live on their own reservation in Thurston County, Nebraska.

Wintu refers both to a language group and a tribal community, several of which still occupy what is now northern California, above the Bay Area of San Francisco.

The Yakima occupy the high mountain country of eastern Washington and live on one of the biggest reservations in the northwest. It is a large and thriving community with a very viable and intact culture.

The Yavapai, People of the Sun, also known as Mojave-Apaches, once roamed over a large part of Arizona. A tribe of hunters and gathereres, they are linguistically and culturally related to the Hualapai and Havasupai. Nomads in search of wild crops, their staples were mesal, saguaro fruit, sunflower seets, pinon nuts, and other wild plants. They also raised corn and hunted deer and rabbit. They lived in caves or primitive brush shelters which could be put up in a short time. Their beliefs were shamanistic.

About 700 Yavapais now live on the Camp Verde and Yavapai Reservations in Arizona.

The home of the Yuma (from Yah Mayo--Son of the Chief) was situated on both sides of the Colorado River. They were primitive but effective farmers, growing corn, melons, mesquite beans, and pumpkins. Onate visited them in 1604-1605 and reported that they were fine physical specimines. Early Spaniards said of them: "The men are well-formed, the women fat and healthy," and gave the collective name "Dieguenos" to a small group of Yuma tribes and rancherias near present-day San Diego.

Some 60 Yumans now live on the 600 acre Cocopah Reservation in Yuma County, Arizona.

The Zuni were the first Pueblo encountered by the Spanish. Fray Marcos de Niza saw the Zuni village from afar. The light adobe walls glistened like gold in the evening sun, and he reported back to the Spanish viceroy in Mexico City that he had found the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, whose streets were paved with gold. As a result Don Francisco de Coronado, with a large party of heavily armed adventurers, appeared in 1540 at Hawikuh and, on July 7th of that year, stormed and plundered the pueblo. At the time of their reconquest by the Spaniards in 1692, twelve years after the Pueblo Revolt, the Zuni fled to one of their strongholds on top of a high, inaccessible mesa. Eventually they built one single village on the site of their ancient pueblo of Halona, and have dwelled there ever since.

Today about 5,000 Zuni live on their 40,000 acre reservation some 30 miles south of Gallup,

Libraries are on this row
INDEX Page 1
(Divination & Dreams, Guides & Spirit Helpers)
INDEX Page 2
INDEX Page 3
(Main Section, Medicine Wheel, Native Languages & Nations, Symbology)
INDEX Page 4
(Myth & Lore)
INDEX Page 5
(Sacred Feminine & Masculine, Stones & Minerals)
INDEX Page 6
(Spiritual Development)
INDEX Page 7
(Totem Animals)
INDEX Page 8
(Tools & Crafts. Copyrights)

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